A useful Guide to discover the best itinerary in Arezzo and its surroundings.
At least once in our lifetime, we have all been with a tour guide inside a museum or through the alleys of an old town centre, in search of famous places and art pieces.
Discovering new art and history is always thrilling!
Especially when we notice corners of our city that we had always seen, but never appreciated the beauty or importance they held.
In this moment, the figure of the tour guide comes into play; it is someone who can make you discover a world you had never really explored before, until then.
How does a tour guide work? And how to they create itineraries for tourists?
These questions are the reason I decided to meet Rachele Fusai from Centro Guide di Arezzo e Provincia.
Once we took our coffee, I did not hesitate to ask her the first question.
Hi Luca, nice to meet you.
Where are you from? And what do you do?
I’m from Arezzo and I have been a tour guide for sixteen years, in Arezzo and surroundings.
What made you start the Centro Guide project?
The Centro Guide was born in 2007 as a fusion of the two pre-existing guide associations that decided to merge in occasion of the exhibition Piero Della Francesca e le Corti Italiane, which was one of the biggest exhibitions held by Museo Nazionale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna di Arezzo.
What is there to discover in a city like Arezzo?
Arezzo is a treasure trove in which tourists can find art, history and beauty; many of them ask for guided tours to admire the famous Cycle of the True Cross, in S. Francesco church.
A city like Arezzo boasts historical and artistic gems such as the Cimabue Crucifix, Casa Vasari, Piazza Grande and the Cathedral with the beautiful glass windows by Guillame De Marcillat, works by Della Robbia… but also St. Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca.
Moreover, Arezzo attracts more and more foreign visitors thanks to its authenticity.
In fact, the city has yet to be touched by the phenomenon of mass tourism, and this authenticity is the reason why, in the last few years, many tourists have chosen Arezzo to discover its beauties.
What is your job today? And where are you located?
We are mainly active in the city centre in Arezzo, as a means of communication between all museum and cultural institutions to create new thematic itineraries.
In this moment, we have some projects on experiential tourism because we are interested not only in artistic and historical beauties, but also in typical wine and food and in artisan products.
Therefore, we are trying to expand the number of experiences in which the tourist lives all the possibilities the province has to offer.
Nowadays, our target is wide: we can collaborate with the Japanese art lover, or the American students who study in Arezzo and want to know more about the Fortezza Medicea, for instance.
What is your mission for those who want to live the itineraries in Arezzo?
Working in Arezzo is always an eternal challenge. It would be much easier for a tour guide to work in a well-known city such as Florence, but we don’t only do the tour guides, we also promote the territory.
The four valleys around Arezzo (Valtiberina, Valdichiana, Valdarno, and Casentino) offer several activities and sources; our aim is to promote this territory and to make young people actually walk on the paths, visit the castles, know ancient techniques such as the water mill, painting, sculpture and taste local wine and food.
Our interest in the future is to involve boys and girls into a few projects, one of these is called Invito all’arte.
Interesting! Can you tell me more about Invito all’arte?
We really care about this project, since it targets secondary schools of the city; it has been going on for more than ten years through after-school activities twice a month, and once a month, guided tours that show the students what they have studied in class.
This is because students study history of art but they often do not realise that what they saw on the book is really the Cimabue Crucufix in Arezzo. When they see it in real life, they like they are part of something important and maybe, once they are back home, they talk about it with their parents. Moreover, students who partake in this project, also get bonus points.
For ten years, we have been trying to enrich the teaching; not that schools do not already do that, but – for a matter of hours – they do not always manage to get deep down in the subject of local art.
We try to create a bridge between books and the live visit; when young people get to know their territory, they start thinking differently.
Art becomes a cultural and communicative vehicle, which enables younger generations to explore a new passion that can lead them to a job, just the way it happened to me.
Concerning what you have just said, can I ask you what kind of experiences lead you to become a tour guide?
You can get to art indirectly. For instance, I attended historical and cultural lectures at university, and when I decided to go for Languages, I tried mixing my linguistic knowledge to the artistic heritage.
This is because I thought it could become not only a job, but also a real passion. It then brought me to attend the master Conoscere l’Etruria with excellent lecturers, who did nothing but fuelling and reinforcing my enthusiasm for artistic knowledge.
Finally, the course I took between 2002 and 2003, allowed me to learn more about my knowledge on the territory, all along with other high-level lecturers; but it was mainly after living in London that I understood, however beautiful the British capital may be, the importance of your hometown.
So it was this detachment from your origins that allowed you to see Arezzo with visitor’s eyes?
Do you have any other activities in store?
Yes, we do! We are thinking of promoting alternative itineraries in the suburbs, because we are aware of several less-known art pieces such as the mosaic in the church of Indicatore, or the graffiti by street artists that are becoming more and more interesting to the younger audience.
How can people contact you?
Thanks for your time Rachele, see you soon!
Translated by Giuliana Vargetto